Francis of Assisi

1182-1226

The son of a wealthy Italian merchant, Francis was a playboy who experienced a profound conversion after going to war for Assisi, being imprisoned, and enduring a debilitating illness. He renounced his family and riches, and lived a life of radical poverty and service because he believed Christ had asked him to. He founded the new mendicant Order of Friars Minor, or Franciscans, and helped found the Poor Clares and Franciscan Third Order. Pope Pius XII said Francis could be called “a second Christ” and in 2013 Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took this medieval saint’s name when he was elected pope. Francis is the patron of animals, environmentalists, merchants and Catholic Action, and also a patron of Italy.

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